How internet star The Giggles got recruited by a Finnish pizza firm

Food company hires Andalusian comedian after global success of his online parodies

Video: El Risitas makes a commercial for Finnish pizza.
Lucía González

These days, the infectious laughter of Spanish comedian El Risitas, aka The Giggles, can be heard far beyond Spain’s borders. In fact, it’s become part of brand Spain.

In the last year-and-a-half, videos of the toothless Andalusian’s TV appearances have been used around the world to make popular online parodies of everything ranging from the latest MacBook release to movie reviews and student unrest at Egyptian universities.

We wanted to find El Risitas and make something new and unique with him”

Orkla Foods Finland

And now Juan Joya Borja, who first appeared on a Spanish television program in the early 2000s telling undecipherable jokes and laughing insanely, is hitting Finland.

A Finnish food company deliberately sought out “the laughing Spaniard” and traveled down to his home town of Seville to shoot a commercial and launch an online campaign based on all those viral videos that have earned him a listing in the Know Your Meme online encyclopedia.

Company representatives say they are “delighted” with the result, but admit that locating the star was hard work. Juan Joya Borja has no email address, no personal website, and doesn’t even have a telephone number, they write in an account of the shoot posted on social media.

On set with El Risitas.

“It took us a long time to locate El Risitas,” say company sources. “The advertising agency used some contacts it had in Spain, without which we never would have managed it. And we spent a week in Seville shooting it.”

In order to boost its campaign for a pocket-sized pizza, the Finnish food company is raffling off T-shirts depicting El Risitas’s face and his most famous catchphrase – “cuñaoooo” (or, “brother-in-laaaaaw”) – among Facebook followers.

The company is also raffling off El Risitas T-shirts.

“We were looking for an idea for something digital with the potential to go viral. Our advertising agency, Satumaa Family Business, thought of using the ‘laughing Spaniard’ to make fun of how strange our new pizza can seem,” explains Emma Vironmäki, head of communications for Orkla Foods Finland, which owns the Graciosa brand that the product is marketed under.

We could have used the idea with that video that has such a big presence on the internet, but we wanted to do something better. We wanted to find El Risitas and make something new and unique with him,” she adds.

The new videos, which are also being aired on television, follow the same style as the meme: the subtitles do not reflect “a 100% translation of what he’s saying.” Excerpts from the campaign with English subtitles show that, rather than pizza, he is in fact talking about a guy who sings badly.

On Facebook, one of the segments has been viewed over 16,000 times, while another one has been seen 53,000 times on YouTube. Presumably a lot of this traffic is coming from Spain, where the video made the home page of popular news aggregator Menéame.

English version by Susana Urra.

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